Why do people believe what they do? A functionalist perspective

Matthew Tyler Boden, Howard Berenbaum, James J. Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Why do people believe what they do? Scholars and laypeople alike tend to answer this question by focusing on the representational functions of beliefs (i.e., representing the world accurately). However, a growing body of theory and research indicates that beliefs also can serve important hedonic functions (i.e., decreasing/increasing negative or positive emotional states). In this article, we describe: (a) the features of belief; (b) the functions served by beliefs, with a focus on the hedonic function; (c) an integrative framework highlighting the hedonic function and contrasting it with the representational function; and (d) the implications of our framework, and related future research directions for individual differences in belief, belief change, and the ways in which beliefs contribute to adaptive versus maladaptive psychological functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-411
Number of pages13
JournalReview of General Psychology
Volume20
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

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Keywords

  • Belief
  • Belief change
  • Emotion regulation
  • Function
  • Functionalist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

Why do people believe what they do? A functionalist perspective. / Boden, Matthew Tyler; Berenbaum, Howard; Gross, James J.

In: Review of General Psychology, Vol. 20, No. 4, 01.12.2016, p. 399-411.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Boden, Matthew Tyler ; Berenbaum, Howard ; Gross, James J. / Why do people believe what they do? A functionalist perspective. In: Review of General Psychology. 2016 ; Vol. 20, No. 4. pp. 399-411.
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